EiF Book Review: Jose Mourinho Up Close and Personal

Jose Mourinho Up Close and Personal

There is no more controversial figure in world football than José Mourinho. One of the most outspoken managers in the modern game, Mourinho attracts plaudits for his winning mentality but is often criticized for his off-the-field tomfoolery. For this reason, perhaps no manager more deserves a personalized account of his off-the-field persona. Robert Beasley, formerly of London newspaper The Sun, is well poised to deliver such an account in Jose Mourinho Up Close and Personal. A lifelong Chelsea supporter, Beasley covered Chelsea for The Sun’s sister newspaper The News of the World when Mourinho arrived at Stamford Bridge in 2004. EiF will be conducting an interview with Robert later this week to gain deeper knowledge of the book, his relationship with Mourinho, and the inner workings of football’s most interesting manager.

The relationship between Beasley and Mourinho began at Mourinho’s first press conference, where Beasley’s verbal tirade on the Chelsea press officer caught Mourinho’s eye. Over the years, they slowly built a strong working, and later personal, relationship. Beasley kept in regular contact with the inflammatory Portuguese manager during Mourinho’s two record-breaking title seasons with Chelsea, a treble at Internazionale, a La Liga triumph with Real Madrid, and his most recent spell back at Stamford Bridge. Jose Mourinho Up Close and Personal is a result of years spent observing and interacting with Mourinho, and it humanizes a man whose on-camera persona is disliked by many and understood by few. It is a story of the relationship between Mourinho and Beasley as well, lending insight into football’s complex relationships built behind the scenes.

Beasley concludes his book just as José Mourinho’s second tenure at Chelsea comes to a close, but the Portuguese manager finds himself under the microscope once again, now at the helm of Premier League rivals Manchester United. The Premier League’s most successful club has not won the title since 2013, which feels like an eternity in Manchester. Despite a string of impressive performances, Manchester United sit fifth, in 6th place and several points adrift from European ambition. Some fans are left wondering whether Mourinho’s magic has run its course, and the gamesmanship that felt spicy and fresh when he arrived in the Premier League in 2004 now feels desperate. These are questions left unanswered by Beasley’s book, but his account of Mourinho the man and the professional provides insight into what we can expect next from Mourinho, and how he will respond to these new tests…

As a die-hard Chelsea fan who fell in love with the club over 12 years ago due to the enigmatic José Mourinho, I immediately jumped at the chance to read Jose Mourinho Up Close and Personal. After all, who doesn’t want to find out more about the Special One and what makes him such a unique character? The book does not disappoint, as Robert Beasley’s stories about his interactions with Mourinho give readers key insight into what makes him tick. Divided into easy to read chapters with different anecdotes and unique perspective about the José Mourinho we do not often see on camera, Jose Mourinho Up Close and Personal is a must read for Chelsea fans and football fans alike.

The days leading up to the launch of the book saw the Daily Mail publishing fascinating extracts of the upcoming publication, with tales highlighting Mourinho’s hatred for Arsene Wenger and even a little-known story about how only a handful of teammates showed up to Michael Essien’s birthday party during his time at Real Madrid. Despite some stories in the book, such as the whole Ashley Cole transfer fiasco, already being fairly well-known to football fans, it is stories such as the Essien one or the remarkable kindness shown by Mourinho to donate money to referee Mark Halsey, who had been fighting cancer, that really make the book shine. Mourinho’s kind moments, however, are not the only thing on display, and some of the interactions between Beasley and José are quick to remind readers that the Portuguese manager also has a mischievous side to him and an unrelenting will to get what he wants. For instance, back in the season before Pep Guardiola joined Bayern Munich, Mourinho, albeit not purposefully, incorrectly tipped off Beasley that Pep was set to join City the following summer, news which he quickly rushed to publish on the front page of that Sunday’s sports news. Although the information itself was wrong, what is more striking about the whole ordeal is the reason Mourinho fed Beasley the scoop – in order to attract potential interest from his beloved Chelsea. Although the book shows that Mourinho seemed to be quite fond of utilizing the media to his advantage, it also demonstrates that at the end of the day, good deeds such as the donation to Mark Halsey are not just fleeting. In particular, a story about how Mourinho took time out of a stressful run of games during his stint at Real Madrid to help out and guide the young Anthony Hudson, who is now the New Zealand National Team’s manager, really stands out. Mourinho is, at the end of the day, someone who loves to win, but also someone who takes time to help others whenever he has the chance.

“I had such great times here. I loved it here and I never wanted to leave. Stamford Bridge is my home. I was so very sad when I had to leave.”
– José Mourinho

One important aspect that really shines through in the book is José Mourinho’s undying love for Chelsea. Although his love for the West London club has never been in doubt, seeing his interactions with Robert Beasley after he left Chelsea really highlights just how much he loves the club. I couldn’t help but smile as I read about moments such as when Mourinho recounted how he celebrated Drogba’s Champions League winning penalty for Chelsea or how he gleefully told Beasley to announce to the whole world that he was coming back to Chelsea in 2013. When reading the book it becomes evident that from the very moment Mourinho first left Chelsea, it was a matter of ‘when’ and not ‘if’ the Special One was coming back to Stamford Bridge. As a Chelsea fan, I also find it particularly fascinating to read the story of a fellow die-hard Chelsea fan as Beasley essentially living the dream and getting to cover his boyhood club while befriending the controversial manager, as well as my idol, José Mourinho.

Jose Mourinho Up Close and Personal is an enjoyable and readable book about one of football’s most interesting characters. Although the book does not have the sort of in-depth tactical information that Pep Guardiola: The Evolution does, it still does a great job of getting into the head of José Mourinho, showing his absolute will to win as well as his loyalty towards those he trusts. Beasley shows readers that despite what we often see on television about Mourinho, the Portuguese manager proves to be an even more complex person to those who know him well. Although I have no doubt that being a big Chelsea and Mourinho fan contributed to my enjoyment of the book, I can assure you that any football fan will love giving this one a read to truly understand what makes the highly enigmatic José Mourinho the Special One.

Make sure to listen to our interview with Robert Beasley to hear from the author himself about the book, Mourinho, and current football happenings around the world.

Written by Thomas Horcel and Henry Trotter
Edited and Formatted by Nick Hawkins